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Exploring the Trails in Dunnings Springs
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Exploring the Trails in Dunnings Springs

Dunnings Spring Park is well known for the beautiful and scenic waterfall and hiking trails, but did you know within the park there are also trails that can be used for mountain biking?

Dunnings is a fan favorite for folks who love scenic overlooks, technical challenges, and breathtaking views. Many of the trails in Dunning's would be considered more intermediate to advanced, but it is well worth the hike-a-bike up for new riders to take a roll on the Upper Ice Cave Loop trail.

A couple suggestions to make your exploration more fruitful- download the app MTB Project. You will not find kiosks up on top of Dunnings to let you know your location like you'd find in Van Peenen. Otherwise, you can snag a copy of a paper map located online or at Decorah Bicycles. There are several, unmarked "cheater" trails in Dunnings that can throw you for a loop and lead you off the trail. Best advice is if you see a trail in front of you, stick to that one vs. going off on an unmarked trail, but if you want to keep your sense of adventure fresh, it's a great way to explore and a fun way to learn how to string trails up!

The trails you'll explore in Dunnings would be considered more climb-intensive than the trails in Van Peenen. There are three ways up to the top of Dunnings and all three will have you testing your climbing legs. If you are riding up Ice Cave Road you can keep your eye out for the trail sign Boa. Boa will bring you to a fork in the road where you'll see Snail Trail (not for biking), a trail to the left, or a trail going straight. If you take the straight trail, that will lead you on the new trail that DHPT built last summer called Stairway to Heaven. You won't see a trail sign for this trail, but the climb up will be far more gradual than if you went left and took Lower Mother's Day up.

The second most popular route up is from the Death Valley side, which many folks will opt to ride up Lower Randy's. You'll climb, level off, and climb some more! It's an entertaining way up that will challenge new riders with some off-camber roots here and there. On that trail you'll come to a fork where you'll see a sharp turn right, you could ride straight, or you could turn down left. Keep going straight and around a rocky uphill turn. Lower Randy just turned into Backside and that will take you right up into Dunnings!

The third route up would be riding up the trail called Old Randy's- which is one of the oldest trails in Decorah and one of the most climb intensive. It's a straight shot up, but not the most pleasant for folks who do not love grinding away at a climb. It's been featured as a climb up into Dunnings for the Decorah Time Trials many times and is well-known for being one heck of a climb.

When you're at the top, there are a few trails that will not take you all the way down to the bottom- those would be Captain's, Upper Mother's Day, Upper Randy's, and the Upper Ice Cave Loop. For newer riders, you'll find Captain's and the Upper Ice Cave Loop to be the most enjoyable and most similar to Van Peenen. 

If you want a challenge, some steep climbs, a fun downhill descent, and aren't nervous of ledges you should string the Mother's Day Trails together for an entertaining adventure that is best for intermediate to advanced riders.

If you're looking for one of the most technical downhills in Decorah, experienced riders can take a gander at a trail called Backbone. At the start, it doesn't seem like it'll be much, but towards the middle, you'll come to an impressive run of stair step rocks to maneuver your bike down.

If you want a challenge, but aren't looking for Backbone level- going back down Backside or New Backside to Rattlesnake Cave will give you just that. Rattlesnake Cave doesn't start off as something too technical, but you'll have a steep climb that takes you down into a rocky dip. You'll have a short, steep, rooty downhill descent to Ice Cave Road. If you cross the road you'll see a steep downhill into River Trail, that route has been featured in several Decorah Time Trial events.

You absolutely can't visit Decorah for mountain biking and not take a spin up on the Dunnings trails. Yes, there is climbing, but once you get to the top you'll have some beautiful views and fun riding!

Don't forget, you can join Josie for her FWD women's ride on Sundays at 5 p.m. now thru October. It's a great way to be introduced to the trails! For those who are curious about FWD and what it's all about, Josie will be hosting a Fearless Women of Dirt Women's Night on August 29th at Decorah Bicycles

We love the Northeast Iowa trails! Share your trail stories here!
  1. Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Whoot! Thanks for taking us out on the trails with you, Josie!

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